The worlds of politics and public administration are in a position to play a key role in protecting our natural environment in many different areas. Climate change and the loss of biodiversity put cities and municipalities under great pressure to take action and call for activities that extend beyond the tasks for which they are normally responsible.
In 2010, the year of “international biodiversity”, the Deutsche Umwelthilfe environmental protection organization is staging the national competition “Capital of Biodiversity” with the conceptual and financial support of the “Lebendige Stadt” Foundation. The winning city will receive a cash award of 50,000 euros. The aim is to motivate the relevant actors in the cities and municipalities to undertake greater efforts and implement specific measures to conserve nature and protect biodiversity.
Based on the questionnaire for the competition, the further aim is to define suitable standards in Germany to help the municipalities find their bearings in this field. Workshops are being staged on all aspects of biodiversity in cooperation with the renowned international environmental organizations ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). This means participation in the competition is not only associated with an award attracting a high level of attention in the public arena but also paves the way for a municipal biodiversity audit.
The time schedule is as follows: all German cities and municipalities will be sent invitations in July 2010 and will then have four months to submit their entry for the competition. The entries will be evaluated based on a predefined points system monitored by a working group on which the “Lebendige Stadt” Foundation is also represented. The “Capital of Diversity” chosen in this way will be presented with the award at a ceremony to be held in April 2011. The findings and best practice examples will be documented and made available to the cities and municipalities.
The national competition is integrated in the European “Capitals of Biodiversity” project and is being staged simultaneously in a total of five countries – Germany, France, Spain, Hungary and Slovakia – creating a perspective that extends beyond national borders, something that is of particular importance when it comes to the issue of biodiversity. The EU is subsidizing this competition through its LIFE environment and nature conservation program. Numerous information measures on European level as well as in-depth interaction with the relevant government ministries in the various countries are planned with the aim of building a pan-European structure and encouraging more countries to take part in the competition. Parallel to this, a European monitoring system is being created for biodiversity in urban environments.